I feel a nudging at my side but ignore it. I shift in my light sleep and rest my head against the window as I get comfortable again, but the irritation and the poking continues:
“JT? Jay? Jay? Dude? Dude? Dude wake up. Wake up dude.”
I slowly open my eyes and groan when I see Kyle staring down at me with an annoying grin on his face. He’s in my space once again and refuses to relent. He’s brought me back to the reality holding my nightmares captive. It’s proven to be enough to drive me away from everything I once knew.
I lift my head from the pane of glass to scowl at him and his never ending energy. I stick my arm out and forcefully shove him away. “Get out of my face,” I mutter groggily, half asleep and unable to keep my eyes open.
I rest my head back down. He laughs mockingly at my exhaustion. I sigh. “You’re so annoying,” I hear myself mumble grumpily before his laughter starts to fade out…
“Wake up! The plane’s going down!”
My eyes snap open as I fling up into an upright position, alarm and panic sprawled all over my expression. It takes me a second to register the lie when I hear Kyle explode into laughter from beside me. I glare at him accusingly, “You’re not funny man.”
“You’re right, I’m hilarious, boeta,” he only laughs louder.
“Brother?” I question, trying to take in as much as I can. Generally, I take an interest in learning new things. It’s a challenge, but I respect all the different cultures I’ve been seeing. South Africa is nothing like America, nothing short of it either.
Kyle nods, “Now you’re getting it. By the time you go back to America, you’ll be speaking Afrikaans fluently.”
“I don’t appreciate being woken up,” I tell him, changing the subject. Returning back to America is the last thing on my mind. I don’t even know if I ever will go back there.
“I was waking you up because we’re about to land, dude,” he updates me.
“Great,” I say sarcastically, muffling a yawn. I have a will to travel and volunteer, but it eventually gets exhausting.
I stay put in my seat once we’ve landed and wait for everyone else to file out first.
“Let’s go!” Kyle suggests overeagerly when he sees that we’re two of the few still left inside. He elbows me when he sees that I’m reluctant to move.
I always end up getting stuck with the irritating people.
I mutter beneath my breath and stand up. I lazily swing my red backpack over my right shoulder, holding down the strap with one hand. I take after his lead and follow him out, but stop short when I see three woman waiting to get off the plane. I pull Kyle out of the way by the collar of his shirt. I step back and motion to the ladies to go first.
Kyle scoffs impatiently at me but lets them go first nonetheless.
I shrug at him, unfazed.
“Thank you,” the last of them smiles at me, evidently grateful. “This world needs more guys like you,” she insists, despite not knowing the first thing about me.
I shake my head, averting my eyes to the floor in shame, “No,” I confess quietly, “it really doesn’t.”
She hears me and gently taps me on the shoulder as she passes me by, a frown on her face, “Don’t sell yourself short,” she whispers, sincere. “Whatever mistakes you’ve made, you can come back from. You can redeem yourself.”
I don’t say anything in turn and watch her leave, her words sticking with me, leaving somewhat of an impact.
“You okay, brother?” Kyle asks when noticing my sudden silence.
I shrug it off and nod, “Yeah.”
Kyle throws his arm around my shoulders as he forces me to move and get off the plane, “You always say you’re fine, but sometimes you seem anything but,” he points out perceptively. “Most of the time you’re chill and easy-going, but then other times you get that look on your face, the look you’re currently sporting now.”
“How observant of you,” I reply back sarcastically as I glance around the small coastal town - Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa - and take it all in.
“Dude,” Kyle stares at me calculatingly as he carefully observes me, “you’re not happy.”
I realize what he means. I don’t bother to deny it, “There’s not much to be happy about.”
“Well not if that’s your perspective on things,” Kyle, whom I first met in Cape Town, gives me one of his expected and infamous lectures. It reminds me of the days where Grey would do the same thing when trying to talk some sense into me or when he attempted to talk me out of something.
Kyle takes a second to analyze me, “What happened to you?”
“Nothing,” I answer in turn with a clipped tone.
He sends me a flat stare.
I sigh, budging, and answer him a second time, “A lot, man. A lot.”
“A girl?” Kyle jumps to conclusions.
I push him out of my space and stubbornly walk on ahead, “I’m done talking.”
“Girl it is,” Kyle makes his own assumptions as he catches up with me.
My problems started long before the girl. She just happened to fall into my endless cycle of messes. I unintentionally dragged her into it. I’m a walking screw up.
“I’m all over the place,” I admit when he pesters on with persistence. I don’t have the patience to take him on right now.
“What is her name?” Kyle questions, overstepping all boundaries at this point.
“Doesn’t matter,” I say, trying to absorb my attention elsewhere - that being in the new scenery surrounding me.
“If you choke up on just saying her name, then it most definitely still does matter to you,” Kyle replies thoughtfully, choosing not to drop the sensitive topic.
“Shut up, Kyle,” I say bitterly, not meaning to take it out on him.
His amicable grin falters.
I wince and run a hand through my hair, frustrated. “I’m not in a good place right now,” I apologize. “I’m beyond lost. I don’t know where to turn to or who to turn to anymore. I don’t even know where to begin. I’m just trying my best here.”
I’m on an endless road to self-discovery. I’m seeking clarity.
“I respect that, but you can’t expect to help others when you can’t even help yourself. Dit werk nie so nie, bruh,” he tells me straightforwardly.
I reason with him, “I know that, but-“
“Your heart, no matter how broken, is in the right place - but you need to make the decision to see things for what they really are,” he advises. “Drop the pessimistic lifestyle and open yourself up to the real beauty around you,” he gestures out toward the tranquil sea and the seagulls flocking over it. “Life is good my brother, life is good.”
His words are naive, ignorant, like acid to my ears.
“You’re wrong,” I shake my head adamantly and force myself to keep walking.
For some people it is, for others…it just isn’t.
Hey, guys :)
A lot of you have been asking me questions about Jay (is he a virgin, why didn’t he become a doctor, how did he meet Leban, what happened to Slobber, etc.), so I’ve made this short story to answer all that.
Check out the video above, if you watch it you’ll see that it is an accurate representation of what Jay is currently going through.
Thanks, guys! :D